Consultants to the Foundation
Mag. Dr. Andreas Nödl
Attorney and restitution
expert. Member of the arbitration panel in causa Maria Altmann and others
(Gustav Klimt: "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" and others) and Müller Hofmann
(Gustav Klimt: "Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl") / Republic of Austria, settlement
with the heirs of Lea Bondi-Jaray (Egon Schiele: "Portrait of Wally"), settlements
with the heirs of Jenny Steiner (Egon Schiele: "Houses by the Sea"; Gustav Klimt:
"Water Snakes II"). Committee member of the Vienna association of lawyers Rechtsanwaltskammer
of the board of directors of the Leopold Museum Private Foundation and until 2013 of the Association of Austrian Fine Art, Künstlerhaus.
Given the collector Gustav Ucicky’s biographical background, provenance research plays an important role in the foundation, as one of its primary goals is to objectively shed light on the history of the artworks’ acquisition. Notable experts have been invited to carry out this sensitive research assignment. Independent provenance researchers free from external instructions and influence analyze the origins of the works that have been brought into the foundation and create dossiers to be submitted to a team of independent legal experts for evaluation. Should the panel find that any of the works were seized during the National Socialist era and were not returned, the board of directors will seek a “just and fair solution” in keeping with the Washington Principles.
The historian Dr. Sonja Niederacher was commissioned to conduct provenance research into the Klimt painting “Portrait of Gertrud Loew (Gertrud Felsövany)”, which was once the property of Gertrud Felsövany. The Felsövany family, in turn, commissioned Mag. Ruth Pleyer to conduct further research into the work. Working closely together, the two researchers compiled a dossier, which they submitted to the legal experts in April 2014.
The independent panel of
legal experts’ decision in the Felsövany case was published in September
2014. The expert assessment of the legal team appointed by the foundation together
with the heirs of Gertrud Felsövany found that the work would have to be
restituted were Austria’s Federal Art Restitution Act to apply. While the
particulars of the sale could not be reconstructed, it is to be presumed that
the painting was purchased by Gustav Ucicky during the Nazi era.
As a private institution and in keeping with its charter, the Klimt Foundation arrived at a just and fair solution in accordance with the Washington Principles of 3rd December 1998 with the Felsövanyi family, in a voluntary and balanced manner, in the autumn of 2014. As a consequence, a request was lodged with the Austrian Federal Monuments Office allowing for the exportation of the painting, which was approved in a legally binding manner on 29th May 2015. At the express wish of both parties, the painting was meanwhile on display from 17th December 2014 to 19th April 2015 at the MAK – Museum of Applied Arts in the exhibition “Ways to Modernism: Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos and Their Impact”. At the heirs’ request, it will now be auctioned off outside of Austria (Sotheby's London, June 24th 2015). The five Klimt drawings, the provenance of which has not yet been conclusively identified, will be transferred directly to the Felsövanyi family.
Provenance Research Causa Felsövany
Dr. Sonja Niederacher
Historian. Provenance researcher at the Leopold Museum Private Foundation commissioned by the cultural section of the Federal Chancellery. An expert on property history, she has worked on numerous studies on the confiscation of property by the National Socialists and its historical reappraisal after 1945. Her publications include contributions to the Historical Commission of the Republic of Austria, a study on the auction house Dorotheum during the National Socialist era as well as investigations into de-Nazification in the political sector, among others. In 2012 she published a monograph on the pecuniary circumstances of Jewish entrepreneurial families in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century with Böhlau publishers (Eigentum und Geschlecht. Jüdische Unternehmerfamilien in Wien 1900-1960).
Body of Legal Experts Causa Felsövany
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c.
Retired president of the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court Verwaltungsgerichtshof (VwGH), chair of the Historical Commission of the Republic of Austria established between 1998 and 2003 as part of the Austrian State Archives.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Franz-Stefan Meissel
University professor at the Department of Roman Law and Antique Legal History of the Faculty of Law of
Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Helmut Ofner, LL.M.
University professor at the Department of European, International and Comparative Law of the Faculty of Law
of Vienna University. Head of the Department of Comparative Law.
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD
A scientific advisory board made up of representatives from different cultural-historical fields advises the foundation when realizing research projects and offering research scholarships.